Optimist learns about helping the homeless

The Optimist Club of St. Andrews-Irmo recently received a presentation from Dr. Lila Anna Sauls, CEO of Homeless No More.

The organization’s focus is on families in Richland County that are homeless when contacted. The families must include at least one child. Within the County there are more than 1,600 students who are homeless and 69,000 families living below the poverty level. Obviously, the need is ever-present.

Homeless No More’s purpose is to approach homeless families and first get them off the streets, with a roof over their heads and with food. They then move through a continuum that phases them—each on an individualized plan — from basic needs to a permanent home that offers the potential for self-sufficiency.

The steps in that process are:

  • Emergency services at a family shelter – which identifies eligible families that appear to be out of options. Those families entering the program are provided with temporary shelter and food.
  • Transitional housing at St. Lawrence place – Once a client’s family is off the streets and has a roof over its head, the programming offers housing for up to two years during which time the family receives support and appropriate life skills training. Here, the family experiences – sometimes for the first time – a community atmosphere.
  • Affordable housing at Live Oak Place – which is not a self-contained, intact setting. Rather, it consists of housing arrayed throughout the Midlands. At this point, the family must be considered an employed/working one. So they are “planted” in a viable community where they are able to pursue normal, productive lives.

During 2021, Homeless No More served more than 150 families, each with its own tailored transition plan.

Pictured are Optimist Club President Larry Blosser, Dr. Lila Anna Sauls, Director of Development Mary Summers, and speaker sponsor Tony Langton.